Review: The 114th Varsity Show
Written by Bwog Staff
Last night, like many of you, The Blue and White attended the premiere of the 114th Annual Varsity Show. The Blue and White staff reviews.
Lions, erections, and bears, oh my!
The Bwog is no stranger to hate–for details, see our ill-fated Yorkie Roundtable and that time we reminded you our name is not spelled with all-caps–but we’ve never seen anything like the hate we saw last night. After months of lukewarm anticipation, the 114th Annual Varsity Show unfolded last night in Roone Arledge to an almost sold-out student crowd and a group of terrified-looking adults. It was: sex-soaked, small in thematic scale and oppressively heterosexual–but fun.
The musical numbers alternated between sports-movie, heart-stirring exhortations (“Strong, Beautiful,” “Hero”) and quaint Gene Kelly/Busby Berkeley-style throwbacks (“Shoulder to Shoulder,” “Well, Woman”). The dialogue was smothered in jokes about sex, bawdy body humor, hate, and Barnard hate. And the boy-meets-girl, boy accuses girl of lying, boy finds out girl’s okay after all storyline—tied into the plot of “Lysistrata”—induced one audience member to comment to this reviewer, “Oh, you poor straights.”
Despite some automatic dancing (excepting Kieron Cindric, who gestured and gyrated like a pro), the acting was delightful. One audience member described female lead Sarah Dooley as “the shit,” and she was. Another commented that Lauren Glover “managed to make herself as large as Judith Shapiro, which is impressive, because she’s a small girl.” Michael Snyder was appropriately forlorn as a Cornell transfer, and Will Snider hammed it up as a conflicted, sinister James McShane. (Prompting this reviewer to wonder: Do the real people depicted in the V-Show feel strange about random students fictionalizing and mocking their lives?)
The spot-on send-ups of the fall semester controversies were well played indeed. Ahmadinejad, the hunger strike, and the hate crimes all had their turn and, in each case, got their due. In these scenes, it was the details that brought the laughs—the carefully placed Gatorade bottles around the strikers’ tents, the pitch-perfect parody of “We do not have homosexuals in our country, I do not know who told you that,” and the denunciation of anything written in Lewisohn bathrooms as automatic hate-speech reminded us of how truly absurd the real-life events had been. Remarked another V-Show-goer, “I kind of forgot about that. I can’t believe that actually happened.”
In its best moments, it was witty, cathartic (another overheard: “It made me feel good to realize everyone else hates it here too”), and inspirational (Alma Mater and Alexander Hamilton dispensing advice is always a sure-fire way to tug at latent school pride). In its worst, it was narrow and crass. But, all said, the former elements overwhelmed the latter, and damned if we weren’t all giddy, humming and smiling, when we stepped into the cold, wet night.